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Disappearing War

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cinema and Erasure in the Post-9/11 World

Edited by Christina Hellmich, Lisa Purse

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Illuminates the extent to which people, images and experiences are erased from cultural representations of contemporary warfare

The battles fought in the name of the ‘war on terror’ have re-ignited questions about the changing nature of war, and the experience of war for those geographically distant from its real world consequences. What is missing from our highly mediated experience of war? What are the intentional and unintentional processes of erasure through which the distortion happens? What are their consequences?

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1. Introduction: Film and the epistemology of war, Christina Hellmich & Lisa Purse
2. Good Kill? U.S. soldiers and the killing of civilians in American film, Cora Sol Goldstein
3. ‘5000 feet is the best’: drone warfare, targets, and Paul Virilio’s ‘accident’, Agnieszka Piotrowska
4. Post-heroic war / the body at risk, Robert Burgoyne
5. Disappearing bodies: visualising the Maywand District murders, Thomas Gregory
6. The unknowable soldier: the face of Freddie Quell, James Harvey-Davitt
7. Visible dead bodies and the technologies of erasure in the war on terror, Jessica Auchter
8. Ambiguity, ambivalence and absence in Zero Dark Thirty, Lisa Purse
9. Invisible war: broadcast television documentary and Iraq, Janet Harris
10. Nine cinematic devices for staging (in)visible war and the (vanishing) colonial present, Shohini Chaudhuri
11. Afterword: Reflections on knowing war, Christina Hellmich

About the Author

Christina Hellmich is Associate Professor in IR & Middle East Studies at the University of Reading

Dr Lisa Purse is Associate Professor in Film in the Department of Film, Theatre & Television at the University of Reading.


From mainstream news coverage of conflict to the use of close-ups in The Master this searching edited collection explores the dialectic between the seen and the unseen in the contemporary war film. The contributors tackle the question of whether the myriad changes to war and the representation of war – via embedded reporting, drones, virtual reality and so on – constitute a deep ideological erasure. Their insights are intellectually and ethically illuminating and advance our understanding of the cultural imagination of war in important ways.

- Guy Westwell, QMUL

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